As Tara passed me the sacrament, her five-year-old son reached for two pieces of bread, fingered them a bit, and then dropped one back on the tray. I hesitated a second and then took the piece he’d dropped. Tara smiled over his head and whispered, “You’re such a good mom.”
I had just been thinking how I would phrase my objection to her expression of the Mormon Modesty Fetish (not appropriate sacrament pondering, but I had already confessed my utter lack of worthiness in my mind and then moved on).
Yesterday morning as Tara and her family and I got ready for the day, the boys and their father invited us to swim with them at the YMCA. But we had a hike in Superstition Springs planned, and I hadn’t brought my suit anyway.
Talk somehow turned to bikinis. I think Aaron joked that his wife could wear her (nonexistent) bikini while I borrowed a suit. Tara turned to her uninterested boys and prompted them to remember (in case we could ever forget) that Heavenly Father does not like bikinis and He is unhappy when girls wear stuff like that.
I love Tara. And I wanted to punch her in the face. (lovingly). My daughters and I have never sat around discussing how boys should dress or how we should feel about any article of clothing they might wear.
Yes, I realize that boys have an easier time of following prophetic pronouncements of modesty, and that we are obsessed as a culture over the female body, as public property most public. She’s too fat, she’s too thin, she wears leggings at BYU to tempt me, she’s a slut because she wants her health insurance to cover birth control hormones to treat her painful endometriosis.
I talked to Tara about it later that day. I do not want, I said, my vulnerable, sensitive, spiritually gorgeous daughters to ever run afoul of a self-righteous prig bent on blaming others for his own thoughts and actions. (I wasn’t quite that succinct or forceful, but I am now.)
And then we went to dinner where she empathized with my motherhood angst and the grocery store where we trash-talked each other about whose blood pressure is lower (I whipped her on diastolic, she creamed me on systolic), then back to her house where her wonderful husband had entertained the boys all day and put them to bed.
We watched the first episode of North and South and giggled with a couple of her ward friends, and went to bed.
Church is at eight and now we are here, among her three boys, her husband on the end of the row. I still hate the Mormon Modesty Fetish with its inherent sexism, but I love my friend Tara, and I love the sweetness of Mormon life.
*I’m visiting Tara for a few days, missing my baby (and the rest of them) exactly as much as I thought I would. Maybe now Callie will realize how much of a job I do at home, and possibly concede that I deserve sick days and the occasional, once-every-ten-years vacation.